BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 16, 2017) – As the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series heads to Brainerd International Raceway for the NHRA Nationals, Tommy Johnson Jr. believes that Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car team is building momentum at a key time.
“I think we’re starting to peak at the right time,” Johnson said, “The past couple of years, this is the time we’ve made our move. We were runner-up at Brainerd in 2015 and it just seems to be where our team really starts to gel and get a great feeling that is important with the Countdown (to the Championship) coming up.”
The six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff begins after the prestigious U.S. Nationals over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis when the points standings are reset for the 10 drivers who qualify to contend for the world title.
In 2015, the Make-A-Wish Dodge tuned by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds finished No. 3 in the points standings then went on to finish No. 2 in 2016.
Johnson believes the consistency of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car will be important heading into the Countdown.
“I feel very confident heading into Brainerd, especially with how we’ve ran the last four races. I think we’re close to putting it all together and change these runner-up finishes to wins.”
Johnson has raced his way into three of the last four final rounds on tour but continues to seek his second win of the season. His first title of 2017 came in March at Las Vegas.
Brainerd International Raceway has a history of producing big times for the nitro categories. Johnson believes this weekend will continue that tradition.
“The weather forecast looks good. I look forward to some really good runs. You’re going to have to bring it all and be on your game to get it done this weekend. It will be a performance race.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry & Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T – 3 of last 4 finals
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 16 1 3 5 3 4 1 0 26-15
CAREER 414 16* 27 58 101 168 15 44 362-354
* 14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
Last event (Aug. 6), Seattle: Qualified No. 3, lost in championship round to Robert Hight
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 3, lost in second round to Courtney Force
Career at Brainerd: Wins 1 (2006), Runner-ups 3 (1993, 1995-TF; 2015-FC), Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Seattle; 16 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,330 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,172 -158
3. Robert Hight (2) 1,164 -166
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,104 -226
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,081 -249
6. Courtney Force 951 -379
7. John Force (1) 877 -453
8. Tim Wilkerson 759 -571
9. J.R. Todd (1) 756 -574
10. Cruz Pedregon 601 -729
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the Matco Tools dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Top Fuel dragster driven by Leah Pritchett; and in Funny Car, 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T; 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the 80th anniversary Mopar/ Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr., both of which are funded by the late Terry Chandler.
DSR has won 313 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.